ST. JOHN’S STUDENTS Justina Gilman, left, and Cialy Charbonneau, right, check out photos they took for the inaugural St. John’s student newspaper.

ST. JOHN’S STUDENTS Justina Gilman, left, and Cialy Charbonneau, right, check out photos they took for the inaugural St. John’s student newspaper.


Sixth graders at St. John’s Catholic School are breaking out their note pads and cameras to launch a student run newspaper. Teacher Becky Alley is learning the process alongside her students as the project takes shape.

Alley said the idea came from school principal Patricia Berthiaume who asked if she would be willing to take on creating and editing a newspaper designed by and for students.

Alley said she began by thinking about what elementary and middle school aged students would like to read and report about. Pairing that with ideas from Berthiaume’s previous school, she came up with interviews, surveys and jokes along with school events like sports, band and theater.

Alley’s students had questions too regarding newspaper reporting. They asked about the kind of hours reporters work, as well as what kinds of things reporters have to write about and if the job is ever dangerous.

Alley spoke to her students about the kinds of tasks newspaper staff have and had them pick their top three choices for the school paper. From there, she chose jobs based on the student’s skills and likes.

There are even two aspiring photographers in Alley’s class that will accompany reporters when they meet with classes and conduct interviews.

“They’re really excited about it. They’ve all worked really hard to get themselves organized and make their appointments with teachers and classes they need to interview. That’s been a task in itself,” Alley said.

It’s been a hectic learning curve for Alley, who wants to put out their first issue by the end of the trimester in February giving them less than four weeks to knock out an issue from start to finish. Furthermore, due to limited computer lab capacity, students are reporting the old fashioned way — writing long-hand notes to later transcribe a final product on the computer.

“We’re just kind of throwing ourselves into it. It will continue to evolve,” Alley said.

Clare MacDonald sat at her desk working on a story about a recent fundraiser at the school called “candygrams” where students could buy candy canes for their friends.

Macdonald said she likes the writing process and conducting interviews. She said she recently interviewed the eighth grade student council president.

Sophie Thieme was working on a story about an upcoming school production of The Nifty Fifties.

“It’s like around the ’50s — obviously. There’s a girl named Gracie who is holding a sock hop for her school and a girl named Muffin who doesn’t think she can do it, so she keeps bullying her about it and so Gracie lies — or doesn’t — you really don’t know, saying that her cousin is a rock star,” Thieme said.

Thieme has an in with the theater story as she plays the character of Bobbie, who apparently rides the meanest guy in town’s motorcycle into a tree.

Justina Gilman and Cialy Charbonneau checked out the camera gear as two boys darted from the room, off to conduct a survey in the prekindergarten room. Alley wasn’t sure how far they would get with their effort.

Time is tight for the novice newsroom but Alley said the kids have a real sense of urgency to get their work in for print.

“This class is extremely responsible about getting things done on time to the point that if I don’t give them a deadline, they ask for one. They don’t thrive with open-ended deadlines — they like to know when it’s going to be due,” Alley said.

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